It may be April 1, but this is no joke. Nicholas Lifke, who has been using JMP since Kindergarten, put our statistical software to use to determine the best weight location for his Pinewood Derby car. The 7-year-old Cub Scout needed to know if weighting the front of the car increased the speed more than weighting the back.
Nicholas made an assumption before starting his experiment. In Nicholas’ own words: “Placing the weight towards the back of the car is better because the back of the car is higher, which gives the car more potential energy.”
So he set out to prove his hypothesis. Nicholas built a Pinewood Derby car that could hold the weight on the front or the back. He tested the car five times with the weights on the front, and five times with the weights on the back. He repeated this five times for a total of 50 tests. Nicholas measured the distance traveled in each test.
Explained Nicholas, “We don’t have a way to measure speed, but the faster the car goes the farther it goes.” After all the runs, Nicholas compared the two sets of data to see if the tests with the weight in the back went farther than the tests with the weight in the front.
What’s the best placement for the weights, then? “Accept the hypothesis,” said Nicholas. He did harness more energy by placing the weight toward the back of the car. The car traveled much farther with the weight on the back, which meant it was traveling much faster when it hit the bottom of the ramp, he explained.
Nicholas had built the fastest car in the entire pack, and took first place in his Wolf Scout division.
What does this prove? That race cars of all sizes can benefit from having JMP on the team. And, perhaps, that any college student struggling through an Introductory to Stats class might want to take a lesson from Nicholas. Way to go Nicholas!!!